*EURweb has learned that original Chi-Lites member Robert “Squirrel” Lester has died.

The artist, who sang on such Chi-Lites hits as “Have You Seen Her” and “Oh Girl,” passed away at 12:05 this morning in his hometown of Chicago, according to the group’s lead singer Marshall Thompson.

“Today I am mourning the loss of my dear partner and friend, Robert “Squirrel” Lester,” Thompson wrote in a statement. “He and I have been performing together for the past 50 years and now I am facing the reality that my friend has left me behind. 

“I pray for peace to his family, friends and to each of you. I also ask that you include me in your prayers as I attempt to accept his passing, knowing that after a short illness, he is no longer suffering and has made his final journey. He will remain in my heart and can never be replaced.” 

Lester once sang with The Chanteurs, a band which included Eugene Record and Clarence Johnson. The three men later formed the Hi-Lites with Marshall Thompson and Creadel “Red” Jones. By the mid-’60s, Johnson left the group, and they were renamed the Chi-Lites, in a nod to their hometown.

Funeral arrangements were pending at press time.

Below, the Chi-Lites perform “Oh Girl” on “Soul Train”